Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How to Photograph Fireworks

The best part of Independence Day are the fireworks. The whole concept of playing with fire and blowing stuff up intrigues me. As a kid, I made sure to buy as many Black Cats and M-60s just to tie them to my toy soldiers and indians. I would set them up for battle and then light them up one by one. Living in the city, we were limited to certain fireworks going in the air, but bottle rockets were another of my favorite. It wasn't until I caught fire to a grass field next to the highway that I wasn't allowed to buy them anymore.
When photographing fireworks there are four things that you should know. Understanding how to shoot in manual mode, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture will make your photograph stand out. You should use a tripod when photographing. A tripod will keep your camera steady, and a remote to your camera will help you from having to stand behind the camera the entire time.

It's always best to take some test shots to make sure your lighting is correct. If not, this is where shutter speed, aperture, and ISO make a difference. I would suggest starting at ISO 100, aperture at 10 (f.10), and shutter speed an 1/4. From here, you can adjust your aperture and shutter speed.

A few things to look for: if your shutter sheep is too long, say at 1 second, then your fireworks will trail like in the 1st and 2nd picture. 

If your aperture is too high, say at f.29, then your picture may be too dark and you will loose detail like in the 3rd picture. 

You will have to adjust your settings during the first part of the firework show, but after that you should be good. Remember to continue checking your images to make sure lighting is correct, or the way you want it look. During the grand finale, you will have to make more adjustments being that there are more fire works at one time. Therefore your camera will be capturing too much light and your pictures will be over exposed. 

Enjoy and have a safe Independence Day. 

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